The deal, announced on Friday, is India's largest ever foreign takeover and extends a wave of consolidation in the fragmented steel sector after Mittal Steel's $31 billion acquisition of rival Arcelor this year.

Analysts did not rule out a counterbid for Corus amid growing pressure on Russian and Asian producers to expand their global reach, but said the terms of the deal to be completed in January made it less likely.

A trader said: "In a sector like steel, a lot can change in three months and markets are not ruling out someone else coming in, but obviously if this was serious, the stock would be trading much higher."

Market access

Corus has risen more than 50 per cent this year amid persistent bid talk.

Tata offered 455 pence per share in cash as expected after the companies confirmed earlier this month that they were in talks.

The Indian firm agreed to refinance the majority of Corus' debt and to inject funds into its pension plan. It also agreed to a one per cent break fee if the deal collapses due to a rival bid.
  
Jim Leng, Corus' chairman, said the deal helped to give it access to low-cost output and high growth markets and followed talks with companies in Brazil, Russia and India.

Jigar Shah, head of research at KR Choksey Securities in Mumbai, said: "If Tata did not take this step today, it would have been invaded by the Mittals and Poscos of the world.

"This was a proactive move to acquire a company in the global space and helps Tata remain unchallenged in the Indian territory."

Philanthropic tradition

Two years ago, Ratan Tata, chairman of India's oldest business house, said he wanted the Tata Group to "spread its wings far beyond India" and become "at home in the world".

The Corus deal means Tata has put that ambition into action, brokering a deal that dwarfs all previous Indian foreign acquisitions.

The tea-to-trucks conglomerate with 96 firms in its stable began emerging as a force in the global marketplace in 2000 when it bought Tetley Tea, Britain's top tea-bag brand, in what newspapers headlined "The Empire strikes back".

Including the Telley deal, Tata has spent at least $3 billion on 19 acquisitions in five continents from the Eight O'Clock Coffee Company in the United States to Daewoo Commercial Vehicle in South Korea.

The Tata Group is a huge company at home with revenues last year of $22 billion, representing nearly three per cent of India's GDP.

It is the biggest private employer in the country with 222,000 people on its payroll.

Aside from being a savvy businessman, Jamsetji Tata, the company's founder, had a strong social conscience.

He accommodated his steel workers in a model company town in Jamshedpur in eastern India and his employees worked just eight-hour days, unheard of in that era.

Jamsetji passed on his philanthropic streak to his sons who set up a charitable trust into which much of Tata's profits are still channeled.